The third time was indeed the charm for the Crosspoint Christian School soccer Cougars.
After suffering overtime losses in the 2015 and 2016 Missouri Christian School Athletic Association state finals, the Cougars captured the Division 1 title Saturday in Joplin, coming from behind to beat Heartland-Belton, 3-2.
“Coach (Ryan) Craft and I are so proud of these boys,” Coach Mike Hopkins said. “We haven’t trailed much this season, and for the team to keep its composure and not let up after falling behind a second time was gratifying to see. Heartland-Belton is a very good team and to wrap up an undefeated season against an opponent of that caliber was awesome.”
Junior Zach Alberson scored twice on penalty kicks in the last 18 minutes of the game to lead the Cougars to the title.
Crosspoint, which finished the season at 21-0, entered the event as the top seed, but trailed 1-0 at the half.
Senior Tom Vandermeulen got past the Cougars defense just 7 minutes into the game and converted a breakaway to open the scoring. Crosspoint had several chances to tie it later in the half, hitting the crossbar twice, but were unable to convert.
The Cougars dominated possession for the opening 15 minutes of the second half, and senior Blake Baker tied the game at the 16-minute mark, stealing a pass and streaking up the field before striking a shot from 18 yards out.
Heartland-Belton countered just 3 minutes later, as Cole Kerby took advantage of a miscommunication between Cougars goalie Isiah Craft and his defense to put Heartland up 2-1.
Crosspoint continued to pressure the Heartland defense, and a handball on a corner kick by freshman Alex Marquart set up Alberson’s first penalty kick, which he buried in the lower left corner.
With less than 5 minutes to play, it appeared as though the Cougars were heading for a third-straight title game going to overtime.
However, Crosspoint was able to put it away in regulation. Junior Clay Williams blew past several defenders from the right wing and was tripped in the goal box before he could get a shot off, resulting in another penalty kick. Alberson again was true, putting it in the exact spot he put his first one.
The Cougars advanced to the finals by beating Plaza Heights Christian Academy (Blue Springs) Friday, 9-2.
Alberson netted five goals for the Cougars, scoring 6 minutes into the game and twice more in the first half to pace the team. Senior Nate Davis had 4 assists and senior Luke Aholt added a goal and two assists.
Crosspoint opened tournament play by beating Grandview Christian School Thursday, 11-1. Seven different Cougars notched goals, with Alberson and Davis both recording hat tricks.
Alberson, Davis and Baker received All-State first-team honors.